Urban Symphonies is a project led by Manchester Camerata at the Bridgewater Hall. Over the current season, Manchester Camerata worked with school children from across Greater Manchester to create an Urban Symphony inspired by the city's architecture. Different musicians and visual artists were asked to lead projects with local community groups, to create individual responses to the city's architecture. The fifth and final movement used The Bridgewater Hall as its starting point, as each group was asked to respond to a different space within the Hall.
Working with myself and artist Jocelyn Arschavir, a group of young people from Positive Moves, Irlam & Cadishead Youth Project created their response to the Undercroft – a dark and mysterious space hidden deep below the Bridgewater Hall auditorium.
Upon visiting the Undercroft, the group immediately noticed the contrast between this space and other parts of the building. The Undercroft provoked sensory and imaginary responses as the young people observed the contrast in light, sound, texture, temperature, surfaces and interiors to that of spaces upstairs. Thoughts of other worlds, science fiction, films, computer games and ghost stories were discussed and it was this rich imaginary response from the young people that we wanted to develop.
An Undercroft-inspired installation was created back at the centre in Irlam, where the young people were able to compose and record their responses. The aim was to playfully reveal a glimpse of imaginary stories and secrets from the hidden Undercroft space downstairs, as mischievous shadowy forms creep upstairs to capture the attention of visitors.
Photos were later printed onto acetate and exhibited in windows at the Bridgewater Hall. A silent movie created by the young people, called 'The Escapees', was also screened at the Hall as part of a series of tours of the Final Movement 5 of Urban Symphonies.